Downsizing Your Home

May 14, 2012

By Staff Writer

Getting by with less is often easier said than done - especially when youíre parting with a lifetime of possessions. But if youíre considering a move to a smaller place - or are just ready to simplify your life - itís smart to pare down, says Heather Starr, a Certified Home Staging Expert and Realtor.

"Thereís a peace and joy in having a decluttered, organized home," Starr says. "Things are easier to find." Plus, if you donate or sell your gently used items, you may benefit from a tax deduction or a cash boost.

Hereís how to make cutting back less painful:

Plan. Even if youíre merely entertaining the idea of moving, itís worth scaling back your possessions early on. "Get rid of things now, and youíll have less to move later," Starr says. If youíve already identified your future living space, use that floor plan to help guide your donation decisions. "You certainly wonít need china set for 12 when your new eat-in kitchen seats four to six," Starr says. Itís also the perfect opportunity to do an updated home inventory and share that with your State Farmģ agent.

Divide and conquer. Sometimes half the battle is deciding where to beginóespecially when youíre working with years of accumulated possessions. To help avoid feeling overwhelmed, Starr recommends tackling one room at a time.

Edit away. As you carefully sort through each room, seriously consider what belongings you must have to be happy, and what you can live without. From there, create labeled piles: 

  • Belongings to keep
  • Treasures to give to family. "With heirlooms, it is a good idea to pass them down to the next generation sooner rather than later so you can be sure that the item's story and significance lives on," Starr says. "Downsizing is a good excuse to pass on that history to a younger family member who will appreciate it."
  • Items in good condition to donate
  • Things to trash

Get a second opinion. Downsizing can be an emotional experience. Donít be afraid to ask family and friends for help. You may also choose to enlist the help of a professional home stager or organizer. "We all love our own stuff and can really benefit from an honest opinion," Starr says. "Getting a second opinion can take some of the pressure off."

Once youíre ready to move, pack smart with these tips

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